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ISSUE: Professional Growth and Effectiveness System
OUR VIEW: Important next step to improved learning
Since the implementation of revised education assessment and accountability standards ushered in by the passage of Senate Bill 1 in 2009, the Kentucky Department of Education has had an overarching goal for its most important stakeholders, its students.
This aim has been to provide increased effectiveness and rigor in K-12 education across all districts in the Commonwealth. The expected outcome of the initiative is for all students to be college and career ready upon graduation from high school. Better preparing our young people to compete in the national and global job market is not only critical to their future success as individuals, but for our nation’s prosperity, too.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded “Measuring Effective Teaching Project” has provided researchers and educators with new insights into the connections between a teacher’s effectiveness in the classroom and their student’s level of learning.
While the research and data quantifies these relationships objectively, it should be of little surprise that the highest academic achievement takes place in classrooms of those educators who are the best in leading their students to understand and apply the lessons presented. Like an athlete’s success on the field of play being a reflection of the quality of coaching received during practice, a student’s performance academically is no less mirrored by the quality of instruction from their teacher.
As a next step in the journey to better evaluate and develop teachers and principals, each school district in the state will be required to pilot the Professional Growth and Effectiveness System during the next school year. The new system is intended to better measure effectiveness in the classroom along a framework of student growth and achievement, leadership, professionalism, instruction, learning climate and assessment practices. The pilot requirement laid out by the state is use the program with several teachers at one school or up to 10 percent of schools in each district next year.
Hardin County Schools will pilot it with up to nine teachers at Heartland, Lakewood and Radcliff elementary schools, West Hardin Middle School and Central Hardin High School. Elizabethtown Independent Schools will pilot at Elizabethtown High School and to a degree at other schools in its district. At her request, HCS Board of Education has agreed to use the system to evaluate the performance of Superintendent Nannette Johnston next year. It seems appropriate for EIS board members to do the same for its new superintendent, Jon Ballard, too.
The five standards will be assessed through a system of measurements. These will involve in-class peer and principal teacher observation and other documented progress on professional development goals the educator and principal has achieved. Other measures will include educator self-assessment and feedback collected from student surveys regarding their classroom experience.
The roll-out has been a long time in coming. The pilot will help education department and district administrators work out kinks and fine-tune the assessment tool before it is fully launched and used for accountability in the 2013-2104 school year.
Considering the time, energy, effort and expense invested to measure student knowledge and recall through standardized testing, it only makes sense to measure a teacher’s ability and effectiveness in objective and subjective ways, too.
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise’s editorial board.